Our Top 7 Tips For A Safe And Healthy Birth!

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Hey Everyone! Thanks so much for checking out the blog today, and I really hope you find some of these basic tips helpful as you prepare for your upcoming birth. Sometimes I wish that I could just effortlessly hand over every single bit of information that I’ve come across over the past 8 years as a doula, to the new mom coming up behind me in hopes that it will help her have a safe, healthy and ENJOYABLE birth experience. I’m often asked if I have any “tips” to give an expectant mother, especially if she’s a first timer, but I have to say that’s like opening Pandora’s box over here in Doula world!! Everything is a domino effect with labour and birth, one thing directly and significantly impacting the next, so it’s pretty difficult to give a simple answer to a pretty complex question. So I decided it would be a great idea to put together a quick list of things to consider when you are approaching your big day, so that you can hopefully begin to understand that you have lots of choices surrounding your birth experience and that you are ALWAYS in the driver’s seat!

We of course, offer our Prenatal Planning Program for those who may already have their birth team in place but are still wanting to take advantage of private, one-on- one education with our team of Doulas. We just want families to feel supported through this amazing process, so we really break down our services to meet our client’s unique needs. To learn more, be sure to book a consult so we can chat about what your goals are, and how we can help you get there! Email us anytime at info@familyfirstdoulas.com

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So here we go! Here are my top 7 tips for a safe and healthy birth!

1) Due dates: These are ESTIMATED DUE DATES! Normal pregnancies last anywhere from 37-42 weeks, and routine induction just because you are 10 days past your “due date” is not exactly evidence-based when recommended on a broad spectrum. This is something that needs to be carefully considered on an individual level vs just blanketing everyone with the same recommendations. Some of the options you have available in terms of safely monitoring babe past 41 weeks are: listening to baby via Non Stress Test (NST), fetal kick counts and just how mom is feeling in general. Talk to your Dr.… ask LOTS of questions and become informed. Also, know that all forms of induction, even natural suggestions like acupuncture and the most common “STRETCH and SWEEP”, have the ability to set things in motion when baby just isn’t quite ready. This tends to result in a very long, difficult labour for many moms. Unless there is a clear sign of distress, it’s usually safest to wait until labour starts on its own as it a very delicate hormonal balance. Inducing a first-time mom increases your rate of C-section significantly (about 20%), compared to that of a second time mom who has given birth vaginally.

Here’s a fantastic article from TIME magazine with more detail!

 I can completely relate to what it feels like hitting that 40 week mark and being “all done” with my pregnancy, but I really encourage moms to call on their support systems to help them through these last moments. Someone to help with other small children or offering to clean the house, ensures that mom can get the rest she will need to enter the marathon of labour that is just around the corner. We also offer this type of support for new families here in Regina!

For tons of info on due dates and induction please visit Evidence Based Birth site to learn more

2) Stay HOME as LONG as possible! Enjoy your early labour and keep focussed on the fact that your sweet babe will be here very soon. Katrina Fahlman, who is my wonderful Doula partner, always explains this in the best way when working with her clients. It’s easy to zero in on “the pain” a woman is in or the stresses of the hospital setting, but she really encourages her clients to “not to forget about what is really happening in the room that day. Don’t miss out on the joy that labour can bring, by keeping focussed on the fact that this is the day that your child will be born.” Early labour is usually the longest part of the entire process. So plan some early labour activities such as reading a book or writing a letter to the baby. Moms can easily use all their energy “watching the grass grow” counting every surge during this time. You really don’t have to time them until you are well into your labour and are considering heading to the hospital. Keep your mind off things as long as you can. Surround yourself with soft music, dim light, and of course lots of hugs and kisses from your partner. Anything that can stir up good loving emotion in mom, with help labour progress. You will know when it’s time to go. Usually, we want to see surges lasting 5-1-1 meaning 5 Min apart, lasting 1 SOLID MINUTE where you cannot speak through them, for at LEAST 1 HOUR. Lots of moms begin to panic slightly as things intensify and feel that if they maybe go to the hospital things will happen sooner. This is totally normal but NOT THE CASE. Your labour will move faster the longer you are in the comfort and privacy of your own home. As a first-time mom, pushing a baby out takes time (at least an hour or so for many) so just know that you usually have lots of time to get to the hospital.

3) Avoid the “Cascade of Interventions”- This clip from the documentary The Business of Being Born is a great example of how this works. Apart from getting up and leaving the comfort of your home, one of the first interventions you come across at the hospital usually starts with Continuous Fetal Monitoring. This seemingly small intervention has been linked to increased C-section without any decrease in either fetal mortality or cerebral palsy for many reasons. Lack of mobility/ increased pain for mom, monitor slips and may give an inaccurate reading…. You have the option for what is known as Intermittent Auscultation. Simply put, they use a hand held doppler to hear the baby vs. having you lay on your back on a hard bed. This allows free movement in the position mom chooses. Read more once again at Evidence Based Birth

4) Atmosphere– Make a playlist of music to take to the hospital. Anything you can do you just stay focused and calm is extremely helpful. Your body knows exactly what to do when we allow it to do it’s thing. As Doulas, our goal is to keep mom comfortable and focussed. I usually explain coping techniques as “moving through a circuit” Keep trying things because what you didn’t like in early labour, may work now in active labour. Go from sitting on the ball, to the shower, to hands and knees, to the bath, for a walk and back to the ball. ACTIVE, UPRIGHT AND MOBILE! If you are having back labour, we need to try and give babe some space in the pelvis to rotate. Try “Childs Pose” which gets your hips up in the air so babe can come out of the pelvis and turn. Labouring on hands and knees or leaned over a counter is what will most likely feel the best.

5) Time to Think– Rarely do decisions need to be made immediately. Never be afraid to ask questions. In fact, it is a welcomed policy at the Regina General Hospital! You mama, are the only true expert in the room when it comes to your birth. When Mom feels good (in a low-risk labour) than 90% of the time babe feels good.

6) SKIN TO SKIN– I can’t even stress it enough! It’s what your babe will be expecting but more importantly, it plays a major role in so many things such as regulating babies temperature, blood sugars and breathing patterns. It helps produce breastmilk and encourages bonding by increasing the oxytocin production in the mom and also helps trigger the let down or release of milk from the breast. There are actually 9 instinctive stages the newborns moves through during what’s known as The Magic Hour. Skin to skin or Kangaroo Care is essential during the first 24 hrs but always helpful during the 4th trimester. This Video from Dr. Nils Bergman is so helpful in explaining just how important those first few hours are for both mom and baby.

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7) Postpartum– Take care of yourself Mama! Have a Baby Moon or practice what the rest of the world does… a 40 day lay in period. Have family and friends take part in this special time by bringing you meals, cleaning or doing the laundry so you can rest and just soak in those early weeks; they truly are the most intensive learning curve you will ever have, not to mention you are going through it with virtually no sleep! It’s a wonderful time but challenging as well. I am very involved with improving Maternal Mental Health here in the city, and am partnered up with a fantastic organization called Postpartum Progress who’s mission is: “ to give new families a stronger start by increasing awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and providing tools that connect moms to treatment.” I encourage you to learn more about the Signs and Symptoms of PPD/Anxiety so you can be well informed on this very important topic. This is something that affects 1 in 5 new moms each and every year, and the sooner someone gets help, the easier it is to regain their health. Hormones and pre-existing conditions, combined with the birth of a child can really throw a mama into the fog or really… “The Darkness” that is Postpartum Depression/Anxiety. I also have tons of great links on my site www.familyfirstdoulas.com under planning resources that you can check out!

So that’s all for now, or at least everything I could fit into a blog for the day! Best of luck with your birth and of course if you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask. The Mom Club is pretty exclusive and has quite the initiation process, but it’s the best one to be in I promise you that! Wishing you all the best!

Take care,

Sara

Owner- Family First Doula Service